Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,075 feet
Date Posted:  03/02/2021
Date Climbed:   02/28/2021
Author:  PeakSixTD
Additional Members:   astrobassman
 Blue skies and long ridges   

Phone trip report number 4. Photos will be at the bottom of the report. This should end by Spring, when I move back into society. It's been 7 years since I have lived somewhere that home internet could be installed. Anyways, here we go.

Colombia in winter via SE ridge has been on my radar for years now. Each year I find myself putting it towards the top of my winter wishlist. This was largely due to the fact that it's considered some of the lower hanging fruit in terms of the winter list. In the spring and summer, I find myself looking for the spiciest routes I can take up Colorado's iconic high peaks. In the winter months, I am a fan of working up incrementally. Somehow I managed to climb 26 of the winter 14ers before I ever made a go at this peak!

Most of my winter partners either already had Colombia, or weren't very interested in bagging it. After sending a few messages to the usual suspects, it was looking like I was going to be on my own here. I love soloing mountains, but have been heavily pressured by several people close to me to break that habit during winter. For that reason, I decided to hop on the climbing connection fourm to recruit potential partners. Collin, AKA Astrobassman, sent me a message and seemed on board for Sunday. The forecast was looking very promising.

We met up on the 365 road at 530am. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of road conditions or how far we would be able to safely drive. I would recommend parking at the national forest sign one mile from the Harvard Lakes TH in most winters. There are a couple of houses right there so I imagine that the road is usually well traveled until that point. There were a couple of cars parked .2 miles further, but I don't see much of an advantage to parking there. Any further than that and you would be begging to get stuck.

The mile long road walk went by very quickly. There is only 200 feet of gain from where we parked to the TH. The switchbacks up to the SE ridge were very gradual. 600 feet of gain seldom feels as effortless as it does on this section. Shortly after starting up the obvious ridge, we encountered dot com user ScottP and his son. They were camping out on the ridge to test out their new tent for some international trips. We chatted briefly before continuing on our way. The route had been previously tracked the entire way up the ridge. I'm not sure I would call it a trench, more like frozen old tracks. Either way, the snow was mostly supportive. We still donned snowshoes to expedite travel, although spikes could have been sufficient.

The route after treeline is fairly obvious. Go up and over most bumps, and around a few that you have good visual on. The gain is very gradual due to the summit still being 3 miles away after breaking treeline. Good conversation helped pass the time while traversing the winding ridge. I was pleased to find myself in the company of someone who has done many respectable international mountaineering trips. I had an opportunity to spam him with all sorts of questions regarding over seas peaks! Collin is currently training for an 8000M peak in the Himalaya. Needless to say, I was the bringing up the rear on this trip! I've been feeling good about my fitness lately, but I see there is still plenty of work to be done.

We were treated to beautiful views and bluebird skies as we trekked up the remainder of the long ridge. The wind was nearly non existent on the way up, but the temperature was certainly on the chilly side. Collin needed to be back in Morrison by a reasonable hour, so we kept a strong pace most of the way. We gained the summit, took a few pics, and began to meander back down the ridge.

On the way down we ran into like 10 people! This was definitely the most I've ever seen on a snowflake. With all of the parties scattered across the mountain, it almost began to look like winter K2! Minus the altitude, insane winds, highs of -50, 70 degree snow, 5.6 rock… Okay. It was nothing even remotely similar, besides all of the people!

The winds finally began to pick up as we neared treeline. Not too strong, just cold and consistent. Upon reaching our treeline snowshoe cache, I decided to hang back and enjoy the views for a bit before descending. Collin needed to jet back down the the cars as quickly as possible, so we said our goodbyes here. I look forward to climbing more peaks together in the future! I wish him the best of luck on his high altitude journey to the Himalaya this season. I thought I was going to hangout up there for an hour before heading down. I started freezing due to the wind. Probably lasted about 25 minutes tops before I was ready to warm back up. I reached my Jeep in about 9:45 hours after starting. Snowflake #27 is in the books! Hopefully I can hit the halfway mark this season. Even if not, I'm already very content with my current progress through the winter list. Safe travels everybody!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Looking forward
03/02/2021 16:03
I, too, am really looking forward to doing this route someday!

03/03/2021 21:04
Really cool pictures. I hated Columbia when I did in summer. Maybe I‘ll have to give it a go in winter!

Nice Pictures
03/20/2021 07:58
Hey Travis, was nice getting out there on Columbia with you, lets make it happen again sometime!

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